Got a burdock root? Meet your new favorite recipe.
Kinpira, or kinpira gobo as you’ll see it listed on menus at various sushi and similar restaurants, is a tried and true preparation for burdock root (it’s usually called gobo) and if you’ve never had it before, you need to drop what you’re doing and make it now.
It’s a snap to make, colorful, but most of all, delicious warm, room temp, or just straight out the fridge cold. It’s also sturdy, and nearly impossible to over cook. If you’ve been skeptical about eating burdock root, or questioned (like me) if digging wild ones would ever be worth it, trust me–it is.
The seasonings of a pinch of sugar (I use maple syrup) soy, a little ginger, and sesame or another oil are great, and will make plenty of things taste good. But, the real secret is a bit of knife work. Kinpira is one of the most perfect examples of where and why good julienne skills are useful in cooking. Seriously.
I’d been cooking burdock for years like a European would, meaning I treated it like a parsnip or another root–my first instinct was to either puree and strain it to avoid the root fibers, or cook it for hours on end in chunks or coins. After my first bite of kinpira gobo at a simple sushi restaurant in San Francisco, I felt like pretty silly for not trying it earlier. Sliced into thin strips, the rock hard roots cook in 10-15 minutes or so–a fraction of the time of trying to cook larger pieces. It’s pure genius.
Once I learned that the roots weren’t that difficult to dig (at least the top 6 inches or so) I started making burdock kinpira regularly, and if you have burdock on your property, or know an Asian market that sells gobo root, after you give it a shot, you probably will too. I garnish mine with some toasted seed, herbs and scallions if I have them, but if all you have is burdock, carrots, soy sauce and maple syrup or sugar you’ll be just fine too.
Kinpira Gobo with Grilled Matsutake and Waterpepper
- ½ lb gobo root 1 large
- ½ lb Carrot 1 large
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup or sugar
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce such as Red Boat brand
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 inch piece finely grated, about 1/2 teaspoon Optional
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds Optional, to garnish
- fresh waterpepper leaves Optional, to garnish
- 2 teaspoons Chinese chives, sliced Optional, to garnish
- Wash the burdock well to remove dirt.
- Have a bowl of cold water ready. Trim the ends off of the gobo, then cut into manageable lengths, about 6 inches long. Peel the lengths one at a time, then cut on the diagonal into ¼ inch-thick long ovals. Stack the ovals on each other a few at a time, then cut into ¼ inch match sticks.
- Repeat with the rest of the gobo, putting the cut sticks into the water as you go. Repeat the process with the carrots, reserving them separate from the gobo (they don’t need to sit in water).
- In a 10 inch pan, such as cast iron, or wide skillet, bring the gobo and 1 cup of water to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, covered. Pour off the water. Add the carrots, maple, ginger, vinegar, fish sauce, soy, half the sesame oil and the remaining 1/4 of water and cook rapidly on high heat, until the pan is nearly dry.
- Turn off the heat, stir in the remaining sesame oil and chives, then transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the sesame seeds, and sliced herbs if using and serve warm, cool, or at room temperature.